Wednesday, June 2, 2021
Rain, Temperature 61 Degrees
Exploring Woodlawn Cemetery, City of Elmira, NY
Neither rain nor yucky weather was about to keep us from going sightseeing today. Thus, despite rain drops falling on our heads we were up and out by 10 am.
We were headed to Elmira, NY where we wanted to explore both Woodlawn Cemetery and the National Soaring Museum.
Today, we’ll cover, in part, our visit to Woodlawn Cemetery. Now, before you bail on me thinking what in the world can you discover in a cemetery just hang with me for a little bit. So, lets go exploring.
Here we are at the entrance gates to Woodlawn Cemetery.
This floral arrangement is immediately inside the entrance. However, we were not here to view the flowers.
We were here to visit the grave site of Mark Twain. Of all the sites associated with Mark Twain in Elmira none attracts more interest than his grave in this cemetery.
An anonymous author once penned these words about his grave site: In years to come people will come from near and far to visit this last resting place of Mark Twain. ..Pilgrimages will be made to this spot in beautiful Woodlawn cemetery and thus has Mark Twain distinguished this Queen City where much of his labor was performed and where he met the girl he loved and where he finally came to lie in his last sleep.
The signs directing you to the grave site are clear and within a few minutes we were there. But before we visit the site. . .
First, a little background. Mark Twain was born Samuel Langhorne Clemens in Independence, Missouri on Dec 5, 1835. He was raised in Florida, Missouri.
Later after he began his literary career he moved to Hartford, Connecticut in order to be closer to his publisher. He rented a home at Nook Farm, a thriving literary community on the western edge of Hartford.
However, what many don’t realize is that he spent a fair bit of time in the Finger Lakes region of New York. Specifically, he wrote many of his significant works in a small study (more about this later) on a farm in Elmira, New York.
Now, to his final resting place.
Today, his grave site is only a short distance from his summer home in Elmira.
He is buried next to his wife who died of heart failure in Florence, Italy. Thought the inscription on the top of the tombstone seems to imply that only her ashes are buried here, there is substantial proof that that is not the case. Her body was actually embalmed in Italy and returned by a German steamship to be buried here in Elmira.
Mark Twain wrote in part regarding his wife: She was always cheerful; and she was always able to communicate her cheerfulness to others. . . She was always able to reason me out of my despairs and to find a bright side to the clouds and make me see it.
Other family members buried here
The name Lampton was the family name of Twain’s mother.
This was the first of Twain’s three daughters and she was known to her family as Susy. It is said that Susy had considerable literary talent.
This was his second daughter who was married to Ossip Gabrilowitsch and after his death to Jacques Samossoud. She was the only one of Twain’s four children to survive him. She was devoted to her parents and sisters, always on call when there was a family crisis or illness.
Then there is this.
This is the Mark Twain/Ossip Gabrilowitsch monument. Clara Clements erected this monument in honor of her father and her first husband. The shaft of the monument is of Westerly granite, known in the trade as perhaps the finest stone in the world. The shaft is twelve feet high and weights ten tons. In the center of the front of the shaft is a panel that is highly polished that reaches about half way up the shaft. Just above it are two portraits in bronze of Twain and Gabrilowitsch.
On the base of the monument is the inscription: Death is the starlit strip between the companionship of yesterday and the reunion of tomorrow. To the loving memory of my father and husband.
OK, that is an overview of Mark Twain’s grave site and others that are buried there. Leaving the cemetery we had one more stop to make regarding Mark Twain.
This is his original study which was once located on Quarry Farm in Elmira. It was located on a small knoll about 100 yards from the main house and overlooked the Chemung River. In this study Mark Twain wrote major portions of the The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Life on the Mississippi, A Connecticut Yankee in King Authur’s Court, The Prince and Pauper, A Tramp Abroad, and many short pieces.
In 1952 the Mark Twain Study was given to Elmira College and hence moved from Quarry Farm to the college grounds.
In this blog I’ve just touched briefly on the life of Mark Twain, his finally resting place and his summers in Elmira. I encourage you to specifically Google Quarry Farm to learn more about this fantastic place and to take a virtual tour of the farm. It’s amazing to see it and to learn how it is continuing to be used today.
That in part was our Wednesday on The Road of Retirement. There is much more to come so stay tuned.
Thanks for taking the time to read our blog. We always appreciate your company, your comments, and your suggestions. Remember, take time to stop and smell the roses and live each day that God gives you to the fullest.
These are the voyages of Elvira and her two intrepid travelers. Our continuing mission: to explore as many new states as possible, to seek out new acquaintances and make new friends, to boldly go where we have never been before.
See you on down the road!